Hungry Dragonflies…….

As the weather has warmed up (and it stopped raining!) in the last couple of weeks, the garden has been transformed.  Suddenly we have masses of dragonflies including four species of colourful hawkers, plus lots of ruddy darters and other smaller species.  The hawkers are quite a nightmare to photograph as they rarely sit still for a moment.  They have been fighting over the Big Pond with a constant clashing of wings.  The smaller species, especially the ruddy darters, are very obliging and often come and sit on me if I am using the garden seat by the pond.  They love this area and will perch on the back and the arms of the seat whether it is already occupied or not!  The larger species can also be watched catching their prey – they are formidably quick and I have seen them take butterflies on the wing, dashing from a perching place and plucking the unsuspecting insects out of the air with astonishing accuracy.  One hawker in particular has a little spot for himself above one of the long borders, but in spite of their brilliant eyesight, I have seen him dash out and catch a passing thistle seed!

About wildlifegardening

Jenny Steel was a Plant Ecologist at Oxford University before becoming a writer. She has more than 20 years experience of writing about and teaching ecology, natural history and wildlife gardening. She is also a photographer, journalist and former plant nursery owner, and a lecturer and tutor in adult education. She has appeared on a variety of radio and television programmes including Gardener’s World with Alan Titchmarsh, and she presented a series of items on the BBC 2 gardening show, How Does Your Garden Grow. She has worked with and written for a variety of organisations including the Royal Horticultural Society, Natural England, Atropos, Ernest Charles, the Adult Residential Colleges Association (ARCA), Haiths, Usborne Books, Complete Gardens, Oxfordshire County Council, the charity Growing Native and several of the Wildlife Trusts. She is also the Garden Bird Guru for the wild bird food company JustAddBirds of which she was a co-founder. The Emmy Award winning film company Panache Productions are currently making a film about her wildlife garden in South Shropshire. She has written 10 books on wildlife gardening. Her website can be found at and her bird food company at
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1 Response to Hungry Dragonflies…….

  1. supernova says:

    Hello Jenny, I too have an interest in ecology and developed my own wildlife garden. I built a small pond, put in some natural plants into this area and made sure there was a nice sloping shallow end. Then I left it alone (apart from removing duck weed from time to time as it took over the place lol). I was amazed at the number of insects and small snails which inhabited the thickest layers of the duck weed. As I removed this weed I placed it on a small mesh square, fixed over the water at one end to allow at least some of the water life to escape back into the water. I was curious as to how the pond would develop with no additions of wildlife from me whatsoever. I saw my first frog after a few weeks (I had a little celebration) and in the next breeding season, there was frog spawn. I watched the tadpoles develop and eventually little frogs were all over the back garden. I too had beautiful big Dragon Flies, though not many, there a bit daunting if they fly straight toward you, aren’t they? Anyhow, each year after the first lot of tiny frogs, there was spawn but it usually never had chance to hatch (when it did hatch the tadpoles disappeared) – something was eating them I think, possibly newts? This is where I feel sad because not long after we had to move and I still wonder if the new occupants carried on with what I had started (probably not). I’ve got to admit I was devastated to leave. I marvelled at the ecosystem which had developed in the time I was there. Originally there was nothing and in the end I had all this, including species of butterfly, damsel fly,birds nesting, hedgehogs, field mice, bumble bee nests and even a male and female sparrow hawk which drank from the pond and sometimes crashed into the hedge after other birds. The male even took a starling in mid flight and ate it with me stood watching, not five metres from it. I was rooted to the spot as it took the Hawk about 75 minutes to pluck and eat everything except the bones.
    Anyhow, all that being said, the photograph of the Dragon Fly is superb and your post reminded me of happy times and how thing were in my garden…..Thank you very much for this post, Best wishes, SN

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